Sri Lanka emerging as a global leader in eco-friendly manufacture, says Brandix

Country’s largest apparel exporter pledges to invest Rs 2.7 bn over four years to ‘Green’ apparel sector

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is believed to be on the threshold of becoming a leader in eco-friendly manufacture on the global stage, and one industry leader today pledged to spend US$ 25 million (Rs. 2.7 billion) over the next four years to place the country on the world map as a location for environmental best practice.

Speaking at inauguration of the country’s first converted Green Factory, Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar said Sri Lanka is already ahead of many of its competitors in the region in eco-friendly manufacture, and has gained international recognition as a major location for ethical manufacturing.

“Over the next four years, the Brandix Group plans to invest 25 million dollars, more than 2.7 billion rupees, on environmental initiatives. There can be no better demonstration of our commitment to eco-friendly manufacture,” Omar said. “We are confident about the future prospects for Sri Lanka’s apparel industry.”

Reflecting the importance of the event was the presence at the inauguration of Sir Stuart Rose, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer, and senior government ministers Professor G. L. Peiris and Dr. Sarath Amunugama.

In his address, Sir Stuart said: “We are delighted to support the ‘eco-factory’ developed by Brandix, which will produce great quality clothing for M&S customers back in the UK. Not only has it reduced its carbon footprint since its renovation, it has also reduced its energy usage, uses less water and no longer sends waste to landfill. It will also continue to produce great quality clothing – what our customers would expect from M&S.”

The 130,000 square-foot Brandix Casualwear factory at Seeduwa is the Group’s lead manufacturing plant for Marks & Spencer (M&S) and its conversion at a cost of US $ 2.5 million into a ‘Green’ plant, has resulted in a reduction of carbon emissions by 75 per cent, an energy saving of 45 per cent and a reduction of water consumption of nearly 60 per cent.

The 30 year old factory has been re-designed to surpass all ‘Green’ factory standards stipulated for energy consumption, water conservation, solid waste management and carbon emissions by the ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) Green Building Rating System of the US Green Building Council (USGBC). It will support Marks & Spencer’s ‘Plan A’ initiative to encourage suppliers around the world to make their supply chains carbon neutral through ‘Green’ manufacturing processes.

In his welcome address at the ceremonial opening of the converted plant, Omar said: “When Marks & Spencer launched its ‘Plan A’ initiative last year, many of the Brandix Group’s manufacturing operations were in sync with its objectives. Eco-friendly manufacture had already become a priority for us and we were committed to a five year eco plan that would see the Brandix Group reduce its carbon footprint by 35 per cent by 2012.”
“The ‘Plan A’ programme galvanised us to bring all our environmental initiatives together under a more focused, integrated and target-oriented master plan.”

Paying tribute to Sir Stuart Rose, Omar said: “While Al Gore is considered the prophet of climate change, Sir Stuart is probably the world’s most potent warrior saving the environment.”
Referring to the future prospects for Sri Lanka’s apparel industry, he said: “We know that competition will grow exponentially over the next few years, and that only the exceptionally strong and the exceptionally adaptable will survive. We also know that eco-friendly manufacturing is the way of the future, and we are confident that we are ahead of many of our competitors in the region in this area.”

Recalling that Sri Lanka has been environmentally responsible for more than 2500 years, Omar pointed out that the ancient kings of Sri Lanka had built thousands of reservoirs for rain water harvesting, flood protection, irrigation and domestic needs. Many of these majestic reservoirs are still in use today. “This is a tradition that we can be proud of,” he said, adding that as a business group, Brandix has from its inception been environment conscious. “Some of our manufacturing plants are located in the very areas that were once ruled by the ancient kings. Our workers come from a culture whose existence has historically been closely linked to the land and man-made water resources. We have found this ethos to be both inspiring and socially and economically sensible,” Mr. Omar said.

Brandix pioneered the concept of total solutions in the Sri Lankan apparel industry and is Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter with a consolidated annual turnover of over US$320 million (2006-07). The winner of two Presidential Export Awards and the recipient of the prestigious international Green Apple award for environmental best practice, the Group is also strongly focused on CSR initiatives that primarily involve water.

In addition, the Group has integrated Clean Technology, Waste Management, Energy Management and Environmental Conservation into its operations on the basis of a strong belief that sustainable industrial development can drive its ultimate goal of being a completely green business concern.


Ceylon Cold Stores lauded for nurturing local vanilla industry

The Kandy Vanilla Growers’ Association (KVGA) recently felicitated Ceylon Cold Stores at its 08th anniversary celebrations, in recognition of its efforts to nurture and promote Sri Lanka’s vanilla industry. Present on the occasion were, President of Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd Jith Goonarathna, Vice President of Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd Neil Samarasinghe and several other officials from the KVGA.

President of the Kandy Vanilla Growers’ Association, Muthubandara Madugalla said that in today’s profit-oriented corporate world, it was encouraging to see how CCS was actively involved in uplifting and developing the local vanilla industry, and also using locally grown produce in its ice creams.

“When our members initially went into mass scale production, we did not know anything about vanilla processing techniques. It was the personnel from CCS who patiently taught us the finer points and even went a step further by purchasing our entire produce. The friendly relationship that exists between CCS and the members of our association has grown into one of strength and mutual respect.”

“The fact that CCS has taken its Elephant House Ice Cream to the world is also an endorsement of the quality of locally grown vanilla beans. We do not use artificial fertilisers and insecticides. This is also an industry suited to both the young and the old, especially women. It empowers them and gives them a good and steady source of income,” Madugalla added.

President of Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd, Jith Goonarathna said that the benefits of this project are manifold. “Firstly, there is a considerable saving in valuable foreign exchange. We buy the locally produced and processed beans to extract vanilla essence and therefore do not need to import. A burgeoning industry also means employment for hundreds of people and thus a change in their quality of lives. We consider this a national responsibility and are committed to uplifting Sri Lanka’s vanilla bean industry.”

100% natural vanilla essence is a key ingredient in the world renowned Elephant House Vanilla Ice Cream. A project to extract essence from processed vanilla beans was first initiated at its factory in Ranala, Kaduwela in 2002. Since this proved feasible, CCS then turned to the Sri Lankan farmer in its efforts to extract vanilla from locally grown and processed vanilla beans. Local vanilla cultivation had, until then, been promoted by the National Agri Business Council. The national yield was 30 kilos in 2002.

CCS identified the Kandy Vanilla Growers Association (KVGA), a small group of approximately 30 farmers who were involved in vanilla production, as partners in the revival of the local vanilla industry. With the assurance that the CCS will buy the total vanilla bean production, the KVGA went on a recruitment drive to enlist local farmers. Today, six years later, a total of 2500 farmers are engaged in the profitable cultivation of vanilla in the Central Province in Matale, Kandy, Kurunegala, Kegalle and Nuwara Eliya. It has also proved to be an ideal home garden crop.

“In addition to providing assistance to farmers, the KVGA also buys the raw beans at a pre-guaranteed price, processes and cures the beans and supplies the processed beans to CCS for extraction. Of the 5000 kilos produced annually, 3000 kilos are produced for CCS. This in turn yields 600 kilos of processed beans which are sold by the farmers to CCS at Rs.5500/- per kilo. The Association plans to increase its production capacity to 1000 kilos of processed beans and thus meet the total CCS requirement in the very near future,” Madugalla added.


                                    Hills Supermarkets gives daily vouchers to lucky winners                               

Hills Supermarkets in Kandy and Nuwara-Eliya which launched the unique ‘Guess’& Win’ promotion during the Avurudhu season, are giving out gift vouchers to lucky customers daily. In addition to the ‘Guess & Win’ promotions, four customers stand a chance to win vouchers worth Rs.500 daily. Picture shows a shopper receiving a gift voucher worth Rs. 500